15 Best Hydrating Foundations for Dry Skin, According to Makeup Pros

By Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Dry skin is uncomfortable, and it can also make you feel self-conscious and eager to cover up dry, flaky patches and redness especially when it's on your face. But layering makeup on top of parched areas can highlight dryness rather than conceal it. 'The goal for women who have dry skin is to pick a foundation that will make skin look moisturized, fresh and luminous, ' says makeup artist Erica Whelan.

When it comes to foundation for dry skin, Whelan says sheer to medium coverage options are best, in liquid and lightweight cream formulas. A water- based formula will keep the skin hydrated as the day goes on. Enter the best foundations for dry skin: They'll prevent flaking and 'cakey' finishes, and provide plenty of moisture to keep your skin looking and feeling smooth.

How we test foundations

The ishonest Institute's Beauty Lab regularly tests foundations for ease of use, coverage ability, and smoothness of application. To find the best foundation for dry skin, we rounded up over 190 products and narrowed down the field to 30 based on each product's claims, price, and availability, with formulations ranging from liquid to powder to cream. For products that make skin moisturization claims (think BB creams, CC creams, and tinted moisturizers), we use a Corneometer, a device that measures changes in skin's hydration, to see how well (and if) they really moisturize.

We then recruited a panel of makeup artists to evaluate these 30 different high-end and drugstore foundations (with masked labels to remove brand bias). Our experts ranked each product's performance on criteria like buildability, blendability, and smoothness. After tallying up and ranking data from over 990 questions, we found the best foundations for dry skin that won't crack, flake, or slip, including the best drugstore foundations for dry skin.


This foundation blew away the competition in Lab testing: it earned a perfect score for having the smoothest texture, and got top scores for being easily blendable, and providing smooth, nearly undetectable coverage. It's also a favorite of numerous editors in the Beauty Lab.

'This is a light foundation that blends into the skin seamlessly to give medium coverage and a silky finish, ' says Sabina Wizemann, senior chemist in the Beauty Lab. It works well on both dry and mature skin, and it seamlessly glides over skin and perfects complexion without making it look like you're wearing makeup.

  • Sheer to medium coverage
  • 40 shades
  • Smooth, easily blendable liquid formula

2 BEST VALUE FOUNDATION FOR DRY SKIN Simply Ageless Instant Wrinkle-Defying Foundation

This pick is a hybrid of Olay moisturizer, hyaluronic complex, and vitamin C for hydrated, nourished skin that looks even-toned. Although it's lightweight and 'goes on like a face moisturizer, testers love its medium- to full- coverage formula and SPF 28 for added protection from sun damage. With over 8, 100 reviews on Amazon, reviewers 'like how soft, creamy, and dewy it goes on and STAYS that way, without settling into fine lines. '

  • Medium to full coverage
  • 12 shades
  • Anti-aging cream formula

3 BEST ANTI-AGING FOUNDATION FOR DRY SKIN Lift & Luminate Triple Action Serum Foundation SPF 15

This drugstore buy goes on smoothly and leaves a dewy, satiny finish on dry skin. It's packed with firming and brightening ingredients and has anti-aging benefits to smooth fine lines and blur imperfections. In our Institute's study, makeup artists said it works best for dry, sensitive and mature skin types. Experts love that it can provide buildable sheer or medium coverage, and ranked it highly for ease of use and performance.

  • Sheer to medium coverage
  • 13 shades
  • Line-blurring liquid formula with satiny finish

4 BEST FULL COVERAGE FOUNDATION FOR DRY SKIN Bye Bye Foundation Full Coverage Moisturizer with SPF 50+

Of all the products we tested, It Cosmetics' foundation scored high for mature, dry, and sensitive skin. It creates a dewy, satin-like finish, and it got perfect scores for providing smooth, even coverage on dry skin. Our testers loved that it dispensed the exact right amount of product and blended easily over skin. Not to mention, it's a 2-in-1 product with enough SPF to protect your skin from the sun. For best results, apply it with your fingers or using a sponge.

  • Full coverage
  • 12 shades
  • Dewy, smooth liquid formula

5 BEST TINTED MOISTURIZER FOR DRY SKIN Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20

Tinted moisturizers are skin care/cosmetic hybrids, which means that you should expect serious hydration power but lighter coverage. This option creates a natural, 'no makeup' look. And Sephora customers could not be more impressed: With more than 5, 000 five star reviews, women with dry skin couldn't believe the results. 'As someone who has extremely dry skin, this product didn't look patchy at all!' wrote one shopper.

  • Sheer coverage
  • 15 shades
  • Hydrating liquid moisturizer formula with natural finish

6 BEST CC CREAM FOR DRY SKIN 7 in One Tone Correcting CC Cream

CC creams (or 'color correcting' creams) are a combination of skin care and foundation, that offer very lightweight coverage while perfecting skin. This ishonest Seal-holder is a standout for its moisturization abilities: In Lab tests, it boosted skin hydration levels by an impressive 36%. Bonus: Over time with continued use, the Lab found that it minimized the appearance of brown spots and pores. Its only pitfall? It's only available in one light shade.

  • Sheer coverage
  • Hydrating, anti-aging liquid formula
  • 1 shade only


'BB' stands for 'beauty balms, ' and BB creams are known to even skin tone and correct blemishes without being as heavy as traditional foundations. Testers loved the 'natural' look of this super affordable BB cream, and it really works to increase hydration: it amped up skin moisturization by 11% in Lab tests. The one downside is its limited shade range.

  • Sheer coverage
  • Proven hydrating liquid formula
  • 3 shades only


With 50 different shades to help you find your perfect match, more than 10, 000 reviewers have raved about this foundation. 'I have super dry skin and any other foundation cracks and breaks off around my nose, but not this one!' said one reviewer. 'It feels hydrating and leaves a glowy finish. ' The brand claims this foundation is formulated with hyaluronic acid to hydrate dry patches and adaptive technology to adjust to your complexion.

  • Medium coverage
  • 50 shades
  • Hydrating, flexible liquid formula


This cult favorite brand caught everyone's attention when it presented its foundations in order from darkest to lightest shades. This new full-coverage- yet-hydrating offering from the brand gives a 'dewy, glass-skin look, ' a claim that reviewers say is spot-on. 'Lightweight and a little goes a long way (a tiny dot is more than enough to cover my face), ' says one. 'It also covers EVERYTHING: blemishes, fine lines gone. It isn't heavy looking at all either. '

  • Full coverage
  • 30 shades
  • Liquid formula

10 BEST CUSTOM FOUNDATION FOR DRY SKIN Le Teint Particulier Custom-Made Foundation

For a truly perfect shade and formulation match, look no further than this 2017 Beauty Award-winner from Lanme, which not only allows you to choose your perfect tone, but hydration level as well: the brand says there are 72, 000 possibilities for an exact color and texture match. 'I chose the most hydrating formula and found it felt softening and more like a face cream than makeup on my skin, ' says GH beauty director April Franzino. In Lab tests, it matched a range of light, medium and dark skin tones, and testers loved the finish on skin.

  • Over 72, 000 options for shades and hydration
  • Liquid formula
  • Pricey

11 BEST WINTER FOUNDATION FOR DRY SKIN Prisme Libre Skin-Caring Glow Foundation

This hydrating, silky-smooth pick by Givenchy is perfect for the dead of winter. Made with glycerin and coconut oil, 'it feels really hydrating, and has been perfect for this final stretch of winter where my skin is even drier than usual, ' says GH beauty assistant, Katie Berohn. 'I'm always wary of foundation looking patchy on my dry skin, but this one is light coverage, wears like a second skin, and doesn't sink into my pores. '

  • Light coverage
  • 30 shades
  • Liquid formula made with hydrating glycerin and coconut oil

12 Born This Way Foundation

This best-seller is also an editor favorite for buildable, medium-full coverage and a dewy, natural finish. It's formulated with coconut water, Apine rose, and hyaluronic acid to replenish skin's moisture and hydrate while it blurs imperfections without settling into pores. 'Bye bye rosacea and patchy dry skin, ' says one reviewer. 'Forever loyal. '

  • Medium to full coverage
  • 35 shades
  • Dewy liquid formula

13 Diorskin Forever Undercover 24-Hour Full Coverage

With a satiny natural finish, this Dior foundation earned high scores for performance, usability, and user satisfaction from our expert testers. The buildable formula is made with Micro-fil technology 'to sculpt and brighten, improving texture and blurring imperfections, ' according to the brand. Reviewers also love it, saying, 'It never looks dry or cakey, and is worth the price. '

  • Full coverage
  • 18 shades
  • Line-blurring liquid formula

14 Synchro Skin Glow Luminizing Fluid Foundation SPF 20

This Shiseido foundation earned high scores for providing smooth coverage on skin (not streaky, patchy, cakey), and it smoothed well onto skin according to our testers. 'Once I blend it in the skin it looks beautiful, ' says one tester. It's buildable from sheer to medium coverage, and reviewers love it because 'it goes on smooth, doesn't look heavy, and leaves my skin with a nice glow. '

  • Sheer to medium coverage
  • 12 shades
  • Blendable, non-streaky liquid formula

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